New research shows that subdued consumer spending and fierce promotional activity in the UK’s £5.9bn
restaurant industry has contributed to a significant increase in financial distress across the sector over the
past year, as experts warn that some restaurant owners may struggle to afford the commercial rent
payments due on 25 March; the sector’s upcoming Quarter Day.
According to new analysis of Begbies Traynor's Red Flag Alert data, which monitors the financial health of
UK companies, the number of UK restaurants experiencing ‘Significant’ financial distress ahead of the
sector’s Quarter Day hit 11,091 (as at 13 March 2018); an increase of 8% compared to the same stage last
Following a number of high profile CVAs (company voluntary agreements) across the industry, including
Jamie’s Italian, Byron and another expected from Prezzo, the UK restaurant sector has clearly been feeling
the pinch as a result of declining consumer spending, with the latest data showing that sales at UK
restaurants fell over the 18 months to December 2017 due to weakened consumer confidence and lower
Meanwhile, experts warn that a “perfect storm” of challenges could force many restaurant owners into the
red ahead of this week’s quarterly rent day, with rising costs, increased competition and an over‐
dependence on promotional offers to drive footfall, all adding to the industry’s woes.
Julie Palmer, Partner at Begbies Traynor, said:
“The UK restaurant sector is facing a perfect storm of pressures ahead of this week’s quarterly rent day, with
growing labour costs from the National Living Wage, subdued consumer spending and fierce competition
from established high street chains, coming together to cause a spike in financial distress across the industry.
“As rising inflation continues to hit real wages, UK consumers are proving increasingly cautious when it comes
to their discretionary spending, meaning that there is even more pressure on restaurants to put on margin
squeezing meal deals to entice diners through their doors. Unfortunately for those restaurateurs
experiencing both declining sales and rising costs, the upcoming quarterly rents payment this weekend could
be too big a financial hit for many to swallow.”
Julie is a law graduate who qualified with Price Waterhouse in 1994. Julie joined Smith & Williamson in 1997 and became a partner in 2001. With Mike Stevenson, Julie set up Middleton Partners offices in Salisbury and Southampton, both of which are now part of Begbies Traynor.
Julie is a member of the Insolvency Practitioners Association and is a Fellow of The Association of Business Recovery Professionals. Julie deals with all aspects of Corporate Recovery and turnaround work and takes all form of personal insolvency appointments.